Homemade Sauerkraut

I always loved the stinkiest, weirdest foods I could get my hands on.

Despite this, I never loved sauerkraut. I actually had no idea what it was until I was about 20 years old. I was walking home from downtown Halifax and stopped at a street vendor for a jumbo sausage (yeah, I can’t believe it either). For whatever reason I topped if off with a handful of sauerkraut… and liked it! It was salty, tangy and totally delicious.

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It was only recently that I became familiar with the benefits of sauerkraut and other fermented foods. I read the Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone in which she speaks highly of fermented foods and making your own pickles. I also started listening to this awesome podcast called The Holistic Health Diary and something that really stood out to me was their frequent referencing to “nutrition 2.0”. This includes making your own kombucha or kefir, sprouting, etc. to take your health to the next level. Both resources peaked my interested on fermented foods.

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In the days of our ancestors, foods were fermented to extend their useful life. It was later realized that the fermentation process transformed these foods into probiotic powerhouses.

So what are fermented foods? These are foods that have been through a process called lactofermentation, in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch creating lactic acid. The process also creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics (source).

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The good bacteria in fermented foods will help restore your healthy gut flora, balancing your digestive system. A clean and balanced gut will and allow for better absorption of vitamins, nutrients and minerals. Probiotics have also been shown to help slow or reverse some diseases, improve bowel health (goodbye IBS!), aid digestion, improve immunity and can even lead to weight loss.

Did you know that your gut has a powerful impact on brain health, including depression and anxiety? Your gut is like your second brain. It even produces more of the neurotransmitter serotonin (the happy hormone) than your brain does. I guess your “gut feeling” is a real thing!

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Many people were mistaking my sauerkraut for kimchi because of the bright coloured veggies. When researching homemade sauerkraut, I found many recipes included red cabbage, carrot, onion & garlic. Colours are good for you (no, seriously) so I decided to add some to my first batch. You probably expect it to look more traditional like this:

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I should also mentioned that the store bought stuff is usually not equal in nutritional value to the homemade version. Anything on a grocery store shelf has likely been stored in vinegar and pasteurized; not fermented. If you do opt for store bought, make sure it says “contains live cultures” on the label and is stored in the refrigerated section. You can probably find good stuff at your local co-op, Whole Foods, or better yet, the farmer’s market where it’s still technically homemade 😉

I chose to use jars as my storage vessels since I don’t have a spot to keep a crock. If you want to use a large crock, some Google searching will help you out. Here are the simple steps I followed and what I learned from my first attempt at DIY fermentation:

DIY Sauerkraut

Yield: 2 x 1 L Mason jars
Prep time: 30 min
Total time: 3-7+ days

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Ingredients:

  • 1 head green cabbage
  • 1/4 head red cabbage
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic

Directions:

  1. Finely chop cabbage and onion, shred carrot, and mince garlic. You may notice in the pictures I didn’t chop as “finely” as you would expect for traditional sauerkraut but it still works.
  2. Toss all ingredients into a very large bowl and lightly salt.
  3. SQUEEZE the vegetables to extract as much water as possible. For some of us this will take stepping away and returning to squeeze more after your hands rest. Add more salt and use taste as your guide throughout the process.
  4. When juice starts to form, press the veggies into your jars. Continue filling and pressing until the brine begins to rise just over the top of the veggies (it may not, initially). During the first 24 hours, check the sauerkraut 3 to 4 times and press it down to make sure that the water level rises to the desired level. If it still doesn’t, mix up a brine with 1 tsp of sea salt with 1 cup of water and fill the jar to JUST cover the top of the kraut.
  5. Cover and store in a cool, dark place for several days (3 days to >1 week depending on temperature/humidity). Don’t refrigerate as this will slow the fermentation process (see notes).

Notes:

  • Be sure to check the jars at least once per day after the first 24 hours to relieve any pressure that builds. Additional brine will naturally form and too much liquid will cause excess pressure. Opening it will be like dropping a bottle of soda then opening it.
  • It can take anywhere from 3 days to over a week to reach the desired, tangy flavour, depending on the temperature/humidity in the storage area. Refrigerate the kraut when you think its ready and it will last for months in an air tight jar.
  • If mold forms on top of the brine just remove it before eating. This is normal and will not affect the quality of your kraut.
  • DO NOT use metal utensils or bowls to make/store sauerkraut because the metal will react with the salt.
  • Start your next batch before this one is gone. Use a little of the first batch as a starter culture, adding it to the bowl while squeezing and salting in step 3.

Updates:

  1. After 24 hours I checked the kraut for only the second time and the pressure gave my jars the dropped soda bottle effect. Oops!
  2. After 4 days the kraut was not quite to our taste preference. We are going to give it another couple of days.

Have you ever made our own fermented foods? 

Do you believe in their nutritional and probiotic power? 

Liz xo

Witchcraft for the Common Cold

Hey friends 🙂

How was your weekend? I actually had an entire weekend with no plans and loved it. The only commitment I made was for an arm balance workshop at Dynamic Fitness. I actually surprised myself a little on the mat 😉

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Ryan and I went to the farmer’s market for what may have been the last weekend for local harvest veggies…. and for leaves on the trees. Fall is still holding on but I can feel winter in the air.

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Our kitchen has been undergoing some mad renovations so this weekend was the first time we could cook at home in almost 2 weeks! I had a lot of cleaning and re-organizing to do but I enjoyed my new stove/oven thoroughly. We made homemade Pad Thai via Ashlee’s recipe and it was 100% boyfriend approved. He said it tasted just like take out only “healthier”.

I also prepped some other goodies for the week and we made our first batch of homemade sauerkraut! I’ve been wanting to get more into fermented foods and I figured this was the easiest place to start. Stay tuned for a Thursday sauerkraut update 😉

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Saturday night we brought out the apple cider from the market to make Occasions Magazine‘s drink of the season. I’m not a whiskey drinker but the Whiskey Warm Me Up is the perfect drink for getting cozy on a chilly night. It will definitely be making a reappearance this winter 😉

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The best part of the this weekend was that we both won the fight against the common cold!

I knew I hadn’t be looking out for my health as much as usual, especially without a kitchen. Last week was my wake up call to get prepared for cold season. I worked my finest magic and had us back in action by the weekend. Ryan has never recovered from a cold in just a few days. Actually, his last cold turned into pneumonia 😐

Quote of the weekend: “Your witchcraft is working!”.

I love it! I couldn’t wait to share some natural methods to get you through cold & flu season. Your body needs to be in a healthy state to prevent and fight off illness. Drugs are just a band-aid and your body is likely working harder to process the meds than to fight off the cold. Before reaching over the counter, try some of these holistic approaches first.

Witchcraft for the Common Cold

1. Juicing

If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you know I have a love affair with juicing. Drinking fresh raw juice provides your body with an abundance of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in the most bioavailable form. It can help you recover more quickly and even reduce the severity of a cold. I also highly suggest fresh raw fruits and veggies in the form of salads or smoothies. I truly believe that our health is defined by what we put into our bodies.

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2. Avoiding meat & dairy

Yeah, yeah, I know… I follow a plant-based diet so of course I would say this, right? But it’s a fact! Meat and dairy are heavier foods that take longer to digest.  If your system is working harder to process these foods, it can’t expend as much energy fighting a virus. No matter what your dietary preference, avoiding these foods will help speed up the healing process.

3. Probiotics

It’s a good idea to make probiotics part of your daily routine. They help restore the healthy bacteria in your gut and improve digestive health. I am now taking a vegetarian probiotic supplement first thing every morning, about half an hour before eating.

Whole foods probiotics are even better than supplements; think sauerkraut, miso soup, kimchi. I also got my hands on some starter cultures to make my own water kefir (nerd alert!) 😀

Notice I did not recommend yogurt (see #2). Many store bought yogurts have a high sugar content. Sugar weakens your immune system and feeds bad bacteria which outweighs the benefit of the probiotics.

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4. Sleep

I think this one is a given. The more you rest the more your body can focus on healing. Your body does the most detoxification while sleeping and in the early hours of the morning. Aim for a minimum of 8 hours when you’re feeling under the weather and rest as much as you need throughout the day.

5. Sweat

This may sound counterintuitive after #4, but a short duration of light-moderate exercise always makes me feel better. Intense exercise will just make you more tired, but a walk on the treadmill can help you “sweat it out”. Not feeling up to anything? Spending some time in a sauna or steam room helps too.

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6. Hot lemon water

First thing in the morning (after your probiotic) squeeze the juice of 1/4 lemon into a cup of hot water. Hot lemon water helps flush out toxins and does its best work on an empty stomach.

7. Hydrate

In addition to your hot lemon water, drink water, water, water and hot herbal teas. No caffeine please; it’s just another toxin your body needs to process.

Refrain from store bought juices! I know you think you need vitamin C stat, and you do, but you can get your C in a more bioavailable form via fresh juice (see #1) and produce. The sugar in these pasteurized juices will hurt your immune system more than the added vitamin C will help.

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9. Handwashing

How could I forget this?! I can still hear my mother’s voice in my head, “there’s a cold going around, make sure you wash your hands!”. Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to help prevent the spread of germs. Wash them after visiting the washroom, using a public computers/phones, sharing stationary at work/school, etc. etc. etc. You get it.

8. Herbs 

Some people swear by tincture of echinacea. I was skeptical at first but I wasn’t taking it regularly. Now I’m taking 1.5 mL of tincture in water after my probiotic daily. When I feel something coming on, I take it 2-3 times a day as directed by the label. I also had Ryan taking an herb blend designed to help sinus and allergies since he struggles with his sinuses on a good day.

Oil of oregano is also known to help during colds or allergy upsets. Its a strong anti-viral and anti-bacterial supplement. For more foods, herbs & spices that help fight colds, check out this awesome post by Samantha!

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“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates

What are your go-to methods to kick a cold fast? 

Are you a fan of any of the above? 

Liz xo

Fit Friday: Tricep Dips

Have you checked out Build Your Own Workout yet?!

This one’s included in the list of tricep exercises… of course! Ask Men also included it on their list of Top 10 Tricep Exercises. Yes, I said “Ask Men”, not Ask Women, but if you asked women and they had the same website I bet they would too 😉

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It’s been a few weeks since I’ve featured an exercise move for Fit Friday and I think its overdue. To those of you who love it, keep rocking the dips. For those who need some insight, here’s your latest fit move:

Fit Friday: Tricep Dips

AKA: Dips

Weight: Optional 5-10 lb plate on your lap

Reps: 3 sets of 15-25 (weight dependent)

Method:

1. Sit on a chair or bench and position your hands shoulder width apart on the surface with your fingers facing you. Slide your butt off the chair and extend your legs straight out in front of you, and straighten your arms. This can be modified with knees slightly bent or at 90 degree angles with feet flat on the floor. The straighter your legs the more difficult the move.

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2. Bend your elbows to lower yourself toward the floor until your elbows at about a 90 degree angle. Keep your back as close to the chair/bench as possible to keep the work in your triceps.

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3. Push your hands into the chair/bench to return to starting position, still keeping your back close to the chair and keeping a slight bend in your elbows when you reach the top (don’t lock them like me in the picture ;).)

And there you have it. The most effective tricep workout for those sexy, toned arms you’ve been working for! For more Fit Friday moves and workouts check out the Fitness Page.

Have a lovely weekend 🙂

Liz xo

Build Your Own Workout

I always hear people say, “I would work out if someone told me what to do”, or “I’d go to the gym if I had a plan laid out for me”.

If I had the means, I would do this for everyone who asked, but my profession is engineering and not personal training. I usually refer people to my favourite fitness blogs, magazines, or more recently, my own little fitness page.

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I find it very easy to turn to a fitness blog, find a workout, do some Google searching if I’m unsure of the moves then take it to the gym or my living room. Just the same, there are many days where I throw together my own thing as you can see on the Fitness Page. However, either of these options can still be intimidating if you don’t know where to start.

I thought it might be helpful for some of my readers to have some basic guidelines on how to put a workout together. Like anything else, confidently creating and executing a workout comes down to time and practice. Maybe you don’t know the difference between tricep dips and a triceratops right now, but after a few workouts I promise you will start to remember the moves and get a little more comfortable with strength training. Everyone has to start somewhere!

Build Your Own Workout: Strength Training Basics

Follow the steps below to first determine your fitness level, then choose your focus area and exercises. Remember that what works for one person might not work for another. You can adjust your weight, exercises, reps, sets, etc. to get the most of your routine. If it doesn’t feel right the first time, make some changes and try it again.

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1. Determine your fitness level.

How much weight?: For beginners, start with 5 lb dumbbells and no more than 10 lb barbells. Test out a few reps and increase or decrease as you feel necessary. Remember you can lift heavier for legs & back than you can for shoulders & arms.

How many reps?: The general guidelines are usually 12-15 reps for light-moderate weights or 8-10 for heavier weights. Get to know your body. There is a difference between fatigued muscles and aching joints! You will likely need to switch up your weight from one exercise to the next, depending on the target muscle group. If 8 lbs feels too light but 10 feels too heavy, use 10 and decrease your reps by 2-3. You will get better/faster results by increasing your weights.

How many sets?: Another general guideline is usually 3 sets of X reps for each exercise. You can either a) perform your 3 sets in sequence then move to the next exercise or b) perform 1 set of each exercise then repeat the entire workout 3 times. I recommend no longer than 30 second breaks between sets. If you are using option b), try resting for only 1 minute between each of your 3 rounds.

I always get a better workout the second time I attempt a given routine. Once you get familiar with the moves and your weight preferences it’s much more effective and its fun!

2. Chose two focus areas

Personally, I think it’s more effective to perform antagonistic workouts because you can rest less when alternating between muscle groups. Legs are the exception because you can switch between hamstring and quadricep exercises so its common to dedicate a day to just legs. I’ve provided some examples of common muscle group combinations below:

  • biceps & triceps
  • back & biceps
  • back & chest
  • chest & core
  • legs & core
  • shoulders & back

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3. Choose your exercises

I provided 8 exercises for each of the focus areas listed above. For combination workouts like chest & back, choose 3-4 workouts per focus area, alternating muscle groups from one exercise to the next. For a single area workout choose 6-8 exercises total. Again, the number of exercises you perform should depend on your fitness level. You can increase/decrease any aspect of the routine to get the most out of your routine.

For any exercises you are unsure of, type them into YouTube and the first link will likely be a short tutorial.

Biceps

  • dumbbell curls
  • barbell curls
  • supinating dumbbell curls
  • hammer curls
  • outward bicep curls
  • bicep rows
  • 21s
  • preacher curls

Triceps

  • tricep dips
  • tricep kickbacks
  • tricep push-ups
  • lying tricep extensions
  • overhead tricep extensions
  • one arm tricep extensions
  • close grip bench press
  • tricep pull-downs

Back

  • lawnmower (one arm row)
  • bent-over dumbbell rows
  • wide grip barbell rows
  • close grip barbell rows
  • seated cable pulls
  • deadlifts
  • dumbbell pull-overs
  • lat pull-down

Chest

  • dumbbell chest press
  • barbell bench press
  • incline dumbbell press
  • wide push ups
  • dumbbell flys
  • cable flys
  • cable press
  • peck deck

Shoulders

  • military press
  • upright row
  • Arnold press
  • standing lateral raise
  • seated, bent-over lateral raise
  • alternating front raise
  • shoulder press machine
  • shrugs

Legs

  • barbell front squats
  • barbell back squats
  • sumo squats
  • split squats
  • step-ups
  • one-legged deadlifts
  • calf raises
  • leg press machine

Core

  • side plank twist
  • stationary mid & side planks
  • wood chop
  • jack knife sit ups
  • Feiffer scissors
  • bicycle crunches
  • Mason twist
  • mountain climbers

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Now that the framework has been laid, here are some basic workout examples to help you get started:

Ex. 1: Back & Biceps (4 of each exercise)

Perform 8-10 reps of each exercise with a heavy weight. Repeat entire sequence 3 x through, resting no more than 1 minute between rounds.

  • lawnmower, left side
  • lawnmower right side
  • barbell curls
  • wide grip barbell rows
  • hammer curls
  • deadlifts
  • outward bicep curls
  • lat pull-down
  • 21s

Ex. 2: Shoulders & Arms (4 shoulder exercises + 2 biceps & 2 triceps)

Perform 10-12 reps of each exercise with a medium-heavy weight; each set 3 times, resting 30 seconds between sets.

  • military press (S)
  • dumbbell bicep curl (B)
  • Arnold press (S)
  • lying tricep extensions (T)
  • lateral raise (S)
  • outward bicep curls (B)
  • alternating front raise (S)
  • tricep kickbacks, left and right (T)

Example 2 shows that you that the basics are easily build on. Things start to get really fun when you incorporate moves that work two muscle groups at once, like the swimmer’s press for biceps and shoulders.

I hope this helps some of you get started on your journey to a fitter, healthier you! No need for fancy equipment or expensive gym memberships to get the job done. You are both your own best advocate and your own worst enemy. Choose who you want to be and get your hands on some iron 😉

Happy lifting!

Liz xo

Vegging Out at Conventional Restaurants

What an amazing weekend 😀

I met up with some of my best girlfriends from university for our 1st Annual Girls Weekend. You know how you always say, “we all have to get together sometime!” but you never seem to find the time? We learned that if you set a date and a location (and maybe make a Facebook group) it’s much easier to actually make it happen!

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Since we are scattered over Nova Scotia and New Brunswick we decided to meet in Moncton which is pretty central. It has lots of shopping and a good selection of restaurants so we figured the rest would just fall together.

It was SO nice to be with the girls who truly know me. Not only did we need to do some serious catching up but it was so much fun reminiscing about our university days (“does that guy have sidesteps?”). I forget how absolutely hilarious my friends are and how easy it is to be myself with them.

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Our Friday night consisted of dinner at a new Asian restaurant followed by hours of conversation & wine. We spent Saturday afternoon shopping then had late lunch at the Pumphouse Brewery. Blueberry ale anyone 😉

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After a few hotel drinks and the usual “getting ready” business, we went to Mexical Rosa’s for cocktails and guac then headed downtown to attempt to talk to french people and get our dance on 😉 We already decided than an annual event just won’t be enough… round 2 is under discussion for the spring and I can’t wait!

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While we were out exploring the city and deciding where to eat, I was inspired to write a post about vegetarian/vegan options at conventional restaurants. A plant based diet can be challenging when you want everyone to happy with the restaurant choice but you want to be able to enjoy your food as well (i.e. not a garden salad).

There is a well-known vegetarian restaurant in Moncton but we wanted more of a “girls night out” atmosphere to our Saturday night so we decided on Mexicali Rosa’s.

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When shopping, it’s more convenient to have lunch at the mall and when traveling, you gotta hit up a city’s signature places,like the Pumphouse Brewery. When in Rome!

So I developed a little compilation of plant-based options at 10 mainstream Canadian food establishments. This is for anyone interested in eating a more plant-based diet or just wondering how the heck I do it 😉

***DISCLAIMER: I’m choosing the term “plant-based” because I’m not strict on the “may contain traces of” aspect. I don’t always need my food to be certified vegan. If it’s not in the ingredients list, I’m happy with that. I’m the only “vegan” in my group of close friends/family so this is how I do the best I can 🙂

A few notes:

  1. To my readers outside of Canada: most of these establishments may not be familiar to you but many of the same guidelines can apply.
  2. For the suggested options I either checked the allergen info or asked my server and nothing directly contains dairy or eggs. However, most locations cannot confirm cross contamination in their kitchen. For example, veggie burgers may not be cooked on a separate grill. If that’s not OK with you, make it known to your server before ordering to see which menu items they can accommodate you with.
  3. Depending on when and where you are reading this post, some menu specifications may have changed or may be different in your area. Always do your own research, ask lots of questions, and don’t take my advice/opinions to be gospel.
  4. I did not review every possible menu option, but just highlighted a few of my favourites. I also did not list the basic items like green salads that you can easily determine vegan.

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1. Mexicali Rosa’s

Mexican food is one of the easiest to make vegan/vegetarian without compromising taste. If you eat dairy, the possibilities are nearly endless, but otherwise, nix the cheese, double the salsa, add some guac and you’re set! We have a Mexi’s in Fredericton which is pretty popular and the patio rocks. I can make any restaurant work for a good patio 😉 Here’s what I suggest:

  • Guacamole Dip + chips & salsa are brought to your table when seated.
  • Mexi Taco Salad; baked taco bowl, no cheese, topped with veggie chili, served with avocado dressing.
  • Avocado salad; no cheese. Option to to add veggie chili.
  • Veggie Chili Bowl (of course).
  • Vegetarian fajitas or burritos; no cheese, sub guac for sour cream.

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2. Boston Pizza

Their menu has come a long way over the years. I used to struggle to find even a decent salad here. It makes me so happy to see more franchise restaurants considering the veggie community!

  • Santa Fe Salad; no cheese, add salsa. My FAVE!
  • Vegetarian pizza; no cheese, add extra veggies to amp up flavour. Available in thin crust or gluten-free.
  • Veggie burger; no feta, no mayo. The brute buns and regular buns are both dairy and egg free!

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3. Thai Express

Very important: for all of these you must request the vegetarian sauce. It’s really just a light soy sauce but the regular stuff contains animal products (likely fish sauce). On the legend, dishes classified as “D) Vegetables” do not equate with “V) Vegetarian” because they do not use the vegetarian sauce. Also, though curry is usually OK, there is no vegetarian option for curry at Thai Express.

  • Pad thai with tofu and/or vegetables, no egg.
  • Stir fry in the following flavours: ginger, cashew nut, sweet & sour, basil, or lemongrass (street location only).
  • Also pad sew or fried rice without egg but they are not my personal preferences 😉

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4. Jack Astors

Ohhh Jack, how I love you! How many bar/grill franchises do you know that serve tofu?! Another lovely feature is that the teriyaki sauce is suitable for vegans as confirmed by an Ontario Jack’s kitchen manager.

  • Walk the Guac (of course!)
  • Veggie stiry fry with teriyaki sauce; add tofu (if not on the menu, Jack’s will accommodate).
  • The Smiling Buddha Salad (personal fave!); sub tofu for chicken, sub teriyaki or balsamic for honey dijon, and no goat cheese
  • Hold The Beef Veggie Burger; ask to omit mushrooms (fried in butter but part of patty). You should also inquire about your local Jack’s bun ingredients.
  • Jack’s Fajitas with veggies or tofu; no cheese or sour cream, with teriyaki sauce.

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5. Subway

Avoid the flatbread, new garlic bread, and any cheese breads since they contain dairy. The rest are fine, including the roasted garlic bread, but I recommend either a whole wheat wrap or 9-grain WW bread. Your sauce options are buffalo, mustard, sweet onion, and oil/vinegar. Also, their “chopped” salads are much better than their previous style where they laid your sliced veggies atop the greens 😉

  • Veggie Delite Sub; on whole wheat bread or a wrap, no cheese, choice of 3 sauces, add avocado
  • Chopped Veggie Delite Salad; no cheese, load up the veggies, add sweet onion or oil/vinegar, add avocado, and ask for the combo deal with apple slices and if the sandwich artist can chop them with the salad. This is actually a ballin’ salad!

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6. Cora

The choices are slim but it’s the best fruit plate you can get an any breakfast/brunch spot I’ve tried! Important note: You have to ask for your toast dry or they will butter it by default.

  • Samira Wake Up; dry toast, add peanut butter or jam
  • Oatmeal with brown sugar & toast; dry toast (which you will be too full to eat, so maybe request no toast), use sugar sparingly, stir in some peanut butter, add side of fruit
  • Side toast with side fruit

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7. Tim Horton’s

Fellow Canuck’s, rejoice! But not with a smoothie in hand; all smoothie bases contain dairy even without the yogurt.

  • Any classic bagel (except cheddar) but no specialty bagel; order dry because butter is their default setting; no cream cheese of course, and ask for PB or jam
  • Oatcakes
  • Hashbrowns
  • Any oatmeal (except apple cinnamon but only available in US)
  • Hearty vegetable soup (unfortunately not minestrone) & country bun
  • APPLE STRUDEL… what?! 😀

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Check out this link for your STARBUCKS vegan needs!

8. Booster Juice/Jamba Juice/Jugo Juice

My go-to spots for a healthy, filling, on-the-go snack (or meal if you bulk it up enough). In the mall, downtown, whatever you’re up to, just look for dairy free options that use soy milk/protein/yogurt. Sometimes soy can be substituted for dairy as well. Many smoothies and of course all juices are dairy-free by default 🙂

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9. Pubs/Bars

As usual, you need to ask the server at your specific location for details on ingredients in veggie patties, buns, sauces, etc. You can usually find one of the following to be suitable:

  • Sweet potato or potato fries
  • Veggie pizza; no cheese
  • Hummus or bean dips with veggies/chips/breads
  • Guacamole or salsa with chips
  • Veggie stir fry
  • Veggie soups/salads
  • Veggie sandwich or wrap with mustard/balsamic/oil & vinegar; ask them to grill it at the end 🙂
  • Veggie burgers; no cheese, no mayo; no sauces like pesto, ranch, etc.

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10. Hotel Breakfast Buffet

Depending on the location, the hot breakfast is usually out of the question except for pre-made oatmeal. Just make sure it’s cooked in water and not in milk. I also recommend bringing your own coffee creamer and I’ve seen people carrying around their almond milk too 😉

  • Oatmeal, instant or pre-made; no milk, stir in peanut butter and/or a mashed, then top with fruit, cereal/granola, dried fruit, nuts
  • Toast, bagels, English muffins; preferably whole wheat with peanut butter or jam
  • Fruit, fruit and more fruit to stash in your purse for later 😉
  • Cereal (read labels); dry OR add your own milk or yogurt

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Now what do you think of dining out on a plant-based diet? Notice I called it challenging, not hard. If you have any questions about a particular menu item or establishment, please leave a comment in the box below and I will be happy to address it 🙂

Liz xo

Pumpkin Gingerbread Smoothie

Did you expect anything else?!

October’s Smoothie of the Month  was not up for discussion. It had to be pumpkin!

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My adaptation of this Pumpkin Gingerbread Smoothie has actually been one of my favourites since the summer. I always have canned pumpkin on hand regardless of the season. I just get a little more excited about it in the fall and during oatmeal weather 🙂

I absolutely love molasses in smoothies. It’s a good source of iron and it adds a little extra kick of flavour. If you like this recipe you have to try June’s Popeye Power Smoothie which was also adapted from one by Angela.

Pumpkin Gingerbread Smoothie

Servings: 1
Calories: ~310

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  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup pure pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 2 ice cubes

I’m not the only one loving the pumpkin smoothies this season. For more great recipes check out these lovely bloggers’ creations:

Pumpkin Pie Green Smoothie by Alex @ Hummusapien 
Pumpkin Spice Smoothie by Simple Green Smoothies 
Creamy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie for Two by Angela @ Oh She Glows 
The Best Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie by Cassey @ Blogilates 

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Not feeling the pumpkin? Check out my previous monthly smoothie features:

Happy pumpkin season 🙂

Liz xo

Give Thanks! + Apple Cranberry Stuffing

This week I am feeling totally blessed after a lovely Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend ❤

I have so many things to be thankful for, especially my family & friends and the frequent opportunities to spend time with them. I am thankful to have found work close to home and to be with someone as willing to travel for family time as I am 🙂

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Oh so thankful for this guy 🙂

I was really looking forward to bringing a dish of my own to Thanksgiving dinner this year. Every fall I say I want to make something with fresh cranberries but I’ve always been hesitant. This was the year… I was finally going to make that homemade stuffing and cranberry sauce.

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The sauce recipe was from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan and the dressing was adapted vegetarian from a recipe found on Eating Well (see bottom for my recipe). The result?

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Both dressing and sauce have been requested to return to the table 😉

I am thankful for my improving abilities in the kitchen! 

This past weekend was the last Saturday of the season for the local farmer’s market in Ryan’s hometown. The fall colors were just as beautiful in the foods as they were in the scenery.

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I am thankful for access to fresh, local, organic food… and for a year round farmer’s market in Fredericton!

We had our Thanksgiving dinner at Ryan’s mom’s and it was my first plant-based Thanksgiving. She set some potatoes & sweet potatoes aside without butter and the rest was fair game. I felt just as satisfied as ever. Next holiday definitely calls for veggie gravy though 😉

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Amy made us a delicious apple pie for dessert and we ended the night with some serious pumpkin carving!

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I am thankful for an extended family who I get along so well with ❤ 

I also got to visit my favourite little corner of the south shore, Mahone Bay! I’ve raved about the Gazebo Cafe but I’ve also been wanting to try Rebecca’s Restaurant. I had the squash cakes with haskap chutney and greens. Have you ever heard of this new haskap berry? SO delicious!

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I am thankful more restaurants are providing vegan options!

I could count my blessings all day but you get the picture 🙂 Happy Canadian Thanksgiving eh! What are my fellow Canucks thankful for?

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Apple Cranberry Stuffing

Serves: 8, 1 cup each

Time: 60 min total 

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Ingredients:

  • 8 cups cubed bread of choice, (12 slices)*
  • 1 tsp olive oil + more for oiling casserole dish
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 4 tsp chopped fresh sage (1.5 tsp dried)
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme (1 tsp dried)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cranberries**
  • 1 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

*The recipe called for 4 slices each of white and whole wheat but to stay on the healthier side use all whole wheat OR a mixture of different breads (spelt, ezekial, etc.) OR gluten free bread if you’re GFree. I’m not sure how this would turn out with frozen breads but after toasting I’m sure it would be fine.

**I quartered my cranberries by hand but for quick work, throw them in the food processor and pulse a few times.

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Spread cubed bread on baking sheet and bake until light toasted, 15-20 min.
  2. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add celery and onion; cook until softened, about 5-7 min. Add apples; cook for 3 min longer. Add 3/4 cup vegetable broth, sage, thyme, salt & pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, 7-10 min.
  3. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add the toasted bread and cranberries. Drizzle 1/2 cup of broth over the mixture and toss until evenly moistened. Add more broth if necessary.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 325 F and transfer stuffing to a lightly oiled casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake until heated through, 40-45 min. For a crisp top, uncover for last 15 min of baking.